How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler – Exclusive Excerpt

Groundhog Day meets Deadpool in Django Wexler’s no-holds-barred, laugh-out-loud fantasy tale about a young woman who, tired of defending humanity from the Dark Lord, decides to become the Dark Lord herself.

Read an excerpt of How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying, below!

Content Warning : Thanks to her unique, fantastic circumstances, Davi speaks casually of self-harm and suicide.  In real life, however, there are no time loops and no healing spells.  If you struggle with thoughts of this nature, visit to find help in your area. This book contains frank discussion of sexual assault.  (No characters are assaulted.)


Life #237

It takes me two weeks to die, locked in my own dungeon.

            Not for lack of trying on my part, mind, but orders have come down from the Dark Lord that the princess isn’t allowed to pop off early.  I found a bit of chicken bone in my soup once, but the spoilsports got to me before I could choke on it.

            On the plus side, to the extent that there is a plus side to being tortured to death, I don’t have to see what’s happening out in the city.  I assume it’s bad.  It’s usually bad.  If I got into therapy and unloaded half the shit I’ve seen, Dr. Freud would take a running leap out the nearest window.  So not having to actually watch is kind of a relief.

            I hear Artaxes coming, the clank clank clank of his rusty iron shitkickers.  When he opens the door, I give him a little wave with my fingers.  This is all I can manage, since I’m manacled to a wooden contraption that raises my arms like I’m in the middle of a cheer routine.

            “Morning, chief!” I sing out.  “What’s the haps?”

            I keep hoping being cheerful will annoy him, possibly enough to rip my throat out, but so far no joy.  It’s hard to tell how anything lands with Artaxes, since he wears his iron armor like a second skin.1

            “How do you poop?” I ask him.  “Just between us.  I won’t tell anybody.”

            He gives a grunt and steps aside.  There’s someone else in the doorway.  Tall and gaunt, black robe hanging limp from her bony shoulders, mouth full of long curving teeth.  Sibarae.  She looks me over and raises her scaly eyebrow-bumps. 

            I’m naked at this point, modesty provided only by a crust of dried blood and matted hair.  For all that matters to Artaxes, I might be a side of beef on a hook.  I mean, maybe he has a raging hard-on inside his rusty codpiece, but I doubt it.  I’ve seen Artaxes serve as the right hand of the Dark Lord more times than I can count, and he always goes about his business with the dumb brute efficiency of a buzzsaw.  You get exactly what you expect with him.  Its comforting, in a way, although obviously not when he’s tearing my fingernails out. 

            Sibarae is a whole other kettle of snakes.  She’s practically drooling at the sight of my gory tits.  Her tongue comes out, long and forked, to taste the air.  I briefly contemplate what it would be like to get head from a snake-wilder2 but I have let’s say a premonition that this is not on the agenda.

            “Look, clanky,” I tell Artaxes, “I realize you’re worried about not … you know, getting the job done anymore, but you can’t just introduce a third wheel into our relationship without talking to me about it.  We have something special together, I don’t want to spoil it.”

            “My master worries that you may become accustomed to the conditions of your imprisonment,” he says.  His voice is as cold and dead as his armor.

            “And I begged him to be allowed a turn,” Sibarae says.  “I’ve always wondered what a princess tastes like.”

            This is not a sex thing, trust me.

            “Sorry, scaly.  I only date girls with tits.”3 

            “Those bulbous mammalian things?”  She glides forward.  “So soft and … vulnerable.  Like the rest of you.  Skin.”  She pronounces the word with a contemptuous flick of the tongue.

            “Remember our lord’s instructions,” Artaxes admonishes.

            “Oh, yes,” Sibarae hisses.  “I’ll be sure to show … restraint.”

            He clanks out, shutting the door behind him.  She gets on with the business at hand.  Which, let’s not put too fine a point on it, fucking sucks.  You think you’d get used to this shit after a while, but nooooo, when someone bites your finger off, your body’s gotta be all like, oh no, someone bit my finger off, pain pain pain!  I know, okay?  I was fucking there, you don’t have to remind me.

            So I scream a lot and piss myself, which is breaking character a little.  Cut me a break.  Artaxes at least doesn’t bite.  In between screams I amuse myself planning how I’m going to kill her next time we meet.  Rusty, jagged metal will be involved.  There may be like a little corkscrew bit on the end, possibly some kind of barbed flanges.  I’ll use my imagination.

            Eventually I pass out, thank god.  When I wake up there’s a teenage girl in the uniform of the palace healers, the glow of green thaumite leaking between the clenched fingers of her shaking hand.  A small pool of vomit by the door marks where she lost her lunch at the sight of me.  I wonder what the wilders have threatened her with.

            She grows back most of my missing bits, but leaves me with a few open wounds just for shits and giggles.  Dark Lord’s orders, presumably.  Fucker likes to twist the knife, figuratively and distressingly literally.  At least when he killed Johan, my poor beautiful himbo boyfriend, he didn’t have time for any of this sadistic bullshit.

            Now that I can think without being completely submerged in white-hot agony I’m getting pissed off.  I know you’re thinking, Davi, just now you’re getting pissed off?  And it’s true, this anger has been building for a while.  It’s taken some time to bubble to the surface, but it’s been stewing down there in the acid swamps of my subconscious.

            To put it bluntly: I am about done with this shit.  The whole being tortured to death thing, obviously, but also the rest.  Finished.  Caput.  No more.  Fuck every last little bit of it.  I have a new plan and it’s time to get started.

            Fun fact: did you know that snakes lose their teeth and constantly grow more, like sharks?  Actually I have no idea if snakes do that, what the fuck do I know about snakes, but snake-wilders do.  I know this, as of today, because I have one of Sibarae’s fangs embedded in my palm.

            The healer has grown the skin back over it, but it’s merely the work of an excruciatingly painful eternity to dig it out with my fingernails.  It has a nice curved shape and a vicious point, and I grip it between two fingers and press it against my wrist, right on the artery.  I don’t have much leverage, so the best I can do is work it back and forth, sawing through the skin.  Hurts like a motherfucker, but sometimes a girl’s just gotta die, you know?

            When the artery finally pops, the spatter of blood hitting the floor is like music to my ears.  I keep tearing at the cut, opening it wider, willing my stupid heart to pump harder and get my whole blood supply out before someone notices.  The fang slips through my fingers about the time my vision starts to go grey, but by then I can taste victory.  Also blood.

            I slip into the sweet embrace of death with a contented sigh.  So long, #237.  Go fuck a porcupine.

Life #238

            “Well now.”  The voice is frustratingly familiar.  “That won’t do at all.”

Chapter One

            I sit up out of the cold water of the pool, gasping for breath.  Again.

            Twelve seconds.

            Done done done with this shit, for real.  No more.

            Still naked of course.  Death, birth, nudity, very mythic.  Frankly if it has to be that way I’d rather die in bed during an epic fuck4 than bleeding out after weeks of torture in my own fucking dungeon, but beggars, choosers, you know.

            Ten seconds.

            Anyway.  Naked in a rancid pool of chilly water at the top of a hill.  Edge of the Kingdom, right up against a wilder-haunted forest.  I’m healthy and hale of limb once again, and also about three years younger, with a lot less muscle tone and a ghastly sort of pixie cut.  Same as always.  I figure it’s what I looked like when all this kicked off, when whatever happened happened and I got here from Earth some-fucking-how.

            Six seconds.

            I focus on breathing.  Calm and centered, that’s me.

            Four seconds.  Sound of someone scrambling up the rocks.

            Take a deep breath.  Hold it.  Let it out.

            Two.  One.

            “My Lady!” Tserigern says.  I mouth the lines with him.  My timing is perfect.  “So it’s true, then.  Gods preserve us.  We have a chance.”

            I look over at him with my best expression of doe-eyed innocence.  He climbs the last few feet, dusts off his motley robe, and approaches reverently.

            Tserigern is a wizard, a very old and famous one.  Everyone says he’s the most powerful wizard in the kingdom but frankly I’ve never seen him do magic for shit.  Light the way in caves and get cryptic messages, that’s about it.  You could replace him with a flashlight and a walkie-talkie.  But he at least looks the part, he’s a bony old motherfucker with a beard you could lose a sheep in, like Santa Claus after a crippling illness.  He has kind, crinkly eyes and a sly grin, a weathered, avuncular voice perfect for laying out the mysteries of the universe for an awestruck young naïf.  Just the guy you want on your side when you wake up all nudie in a weird fantasy universe with no idea what the fuck is going on.

            He bends to one knee and offers me his gnarled hand.

            “My Lady,” he says, as I wrap my fingers around his.  “I –“

            He doesn’t get to finish because I grab the back of his head with my other hand and slam his face into the fucking rocks.  I hear his nose break with a crunch and my heart sings, it’s so god-damn cathartic.  He lays out flat and I swing astride his back, both hands in his hair, and start pounding his stupid fucking face into mush against the stone edge of the pool.

            Seeing as how he’s a little occupied, I say his lines for him.

            “I know you must be frightened,” crunch, “but I swear to you, I mean you no harm,” crunch, you fucking liar, “I have hoped against hope for your coming, and I thank the gods my reading of the texts was true,” crunch, they didn’t predict this did they motherfucker?, “you must come with me, the fate of the kingdom is balanced on the blade of a knife,” ca-crunch.

            Holy fuck, it’s better then sex.  I don’t stop until long after his legs have quit kicking and bits of blood and brains are floating in the water.

            “I’m done,” I tell the body, leaning back and breathing hard.  “Hear me?  Done.  I’m not the holy savior here to protect your fucking kingdom.”  I’ve been doing that for, hold on let me check my watch, fucking ten centuries and where the fuck has it gotten me?  A fucking snake-woman eating my goddamn fingers, that’s where.

            I strip off his nasty-ass robe and wrap myself in it.  He’s wearing trousers too but I’m not touching them without a hazmat suit.

            “What am I going to do instead?” I say, in response to an inaudible question.  “I will tell you what I am going to fucking do.  We have an expression back home, concerning what course of action to take if you find yourself, under no circumstances, able to beat ’em.  I intend to follow its advice.”

            I tie the corners of the robe under my chin, plant my hands on my hips, and let it flap behind me like the cape of an extremely inappropriate superhero.

            “I,” I announce to the world, “am going to become the fucking Dark Lord.”


            Okay.  I’ve been going full speed ahead in the interest of keeping my res fucking in media but it’s possible you have some questions, such as:

            1) How could you beat a friendly old man to death like that? and

            2) Didn’t you die, like, two pages ago?  What’s the deal?

            To which I answer:

            1) The key is getting a good grip on the wispy bits of hair on the back of his bald-ass head, once your fingers are really dug in there then it’s pretty simple.

            2) It’s a long fucking story.

            To keep confusion to a minimum, though, here’s the airline safety video version:  Hi!  I’m Davi.  I’m in my early twenties, dark hair, skin the color of an Amazon box, freckles like someone flicked a paintbrush at my nose, body you’d probably swipe right on but maybe not brag to your friends about afterward. 

            For the last thousand years5 I’ve been trapped in a time loop, like in that movie or that other movie.  When I die — and I always die, for reasons I’m about to explain — I wake up here, now, naked in the pool.  Tserigern turns up to give me his spiel.  What he would have told me, had I not enmushified his head, is that the Kingdom is in dire peril from the impending rise of the Dark Lord and only I can save humanity from the monstrous armies of the wild.  Chosen by the fucking gods, promised by prophecy, generally just absolutely lousy with momentous portent.  Get your ass in gear, Davi, there’s heroing to do.

            There was a time when I bought this horseshit.  I mean it’s not like he’s completely off-base here.  Try to maintain appropriate humility all you want, it’s hard to believe the world doesn’t revolve around you when it rewinds the tape every time you fall on your head.  And whatever prophet wrote the one about the Dark Lord destroying the Kingdom makes Nostradamus look like a stock-picking hamster, because that shit happens Every.  Fucking.  Time. 

            It’s not always the same Dark Lord, and sometimes it takes a little longer, but they always turn up.  And as of a few minutes ago I have fed two hundred and thirty-seven quarters into this fucking game and I cannot get past the last boss.  I have tried everything, and it always ends with me getting sliced into sashimi.  I am getting a little peeved about this, hence my admittedly emotional outburst slash face-smashing.

            So!  Yeah.  Davi.  Freckles.  Time loop.  That’s me.6

  1. He seriously never takes it off.  How does he poop?  I have to know how he poops. ↩︎
  2. The tongue would be fucking weird, right?  Dunno.  Maybe I’m into it. ↩︎
  3. This isn’t really true, I’m just trying to piss her off.  No offense to my flat-chested sisters! ↩︎
  4. Managed it once! ↩︎
  5. Give or take a few hundred.  I try to count but it’s not like I can keep a fucking diary. ↩︎
  6. Where was I before the time loop?  Honestly I don’t fucking remember.  Somewhere on Earth, obviously.  I speak English.  I think I was an American because I’m kind of an aggressive asshole.  I know stuff: Superman is Clark Kent, Darth Vader is Luke’s father.  (6a: Is Superman Darth Vader’s father?  This shit all kind of blurs together.)  That really fucking awful guy is president.  Not that one, the other one.  At this point I’ve been here in the Kingdom five hundred times longer; how much do you remember from the first month of your life? ↩︎